Colombian politics lost one of its most representative figures this Saturday. Piedad Córdoba, an Afro-Colombian woman who was the protagonist in Congress of the most important events of the last three decades, was found dead by her bodyguards. By the time she was admitted to the Los Conquistadores clinic in Medellín, her hometown, she had already died of a heart attack. Known for her fight for a negotiated solution to the armed conflict with the then FARC guerrillas and for her participation in the negotiations with this armed group that led to the release of several kidnapped people, she has always been a controversial figure.
His turban, which he almost always wore and which highlighted his Afro roots, and his direct manner of speaking were his two most distinctive features. Córdoba has managed to assert itself in a world dominated by men, in a Congress with far fewer women than the current one, where it only reaches 30%. He also defended the search for a negotiated solution to the conflict in decades – the 1990s and the 2000s – when the idea was not only considered distant but also rejected by much of public opinion. However, as an intermediary between the government of former President Álvaro Uribe and the FARC guerrillas, she achieved the release of many kidnapped people who had been in the jungle for years. For this work she was nominated for the Prince of Asturias Prize for Concord in 2008 and was even nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (center) speaks with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) representative Iván Márquez (right) and Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba on November 8, 2007 in Caracas, Venezuela. Gregorio Marrero (AP)
President Gustavo Petro was one of the first to react to his death. “As a congresswoman I met her and as a senator she died. “A true liberal has died,” the president said in a trill. At the time of her death, Piedad was a senator from the Historical Pact, the party with which Petro became president. She spent practically half of her life in Congress, where she first entered the chamber in 1992 as a representative of her department of Antioquia and where she later served as senator until 2010. She spent most of her career within the party. Liberal. He came from a family that had led a current of this party in Chocó for decades, where his paternal line also comes from. However, she distanced herself from the red awnings due to her progressive and more left-wing ideas, which led her to found the movement Poder Ciudadano Siglo XXI as an internal dissidence.
“Piedad Córdoba was a woman beaten by an era and a society. All his life he fought for a more democratic society. Her body and mind could not withstand the pressure of an anachronistic society that welcomed the conformities of young people, that hated dialogue and peace, that hated blacks, indigenous people and the poor, and that treated her like a criminal. A fascist lawyer expelled her from the Senate and mocked her constituents. I wanted to repair the damage and helped her get on the Historical Pact list. I felt like she deserved it,” Petros Trill adds.
The president refers to one of the episodes in which Córdoba's political career was halted. In 2010, she was dismissed as a senator by the Attorney General's Office led by Alejandro Ordóñez, who also disqualified Petro when he was mayor of Bogotá, a decision that was later overturned by a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Córdoba was accused of collaborating with the FARC and banned from holding public office for 18 years. Six years later, the Council of State overturned both disqualifications for lack of evidence.
Current events analysis and the best stories from Colombia, delivered to your inbox every week
GET THISRevolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Raúl Reyes during a meeting with Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba, Friday, September 14, 2007. Jorge Enrique Botero (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Although she was not the first woman of African descent to reach Congress – Nasly Lozano had already done so in 1962 – she achieved an unprecedented role in national politics for a woman of Black descent. “A woman who opened the doors of Colombian politics to women of African descent and fought tirelessly for peace and social justice in our country,” wrote Vice President Francia Márquez on her social networks. Without the character of Piedad, it probably would have been difficult for someone like Márquez to emerge.
Piedad traveled throughout Latin America in her desire to seek alliances with foreign guarantors to promote peace processes, and made contacts with several left-wing Latin American presidents, notably Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. This last friendship was the reason for the greatest criticism he received in Colombia, where he was accused of advancing secret political plans in favor of Chavismo and the guerrillas. This Saturday, Nicolás Maduro expressed his condolences to his family and Colombians. “Dear friend Piedad, how many battles have you had to endure and fight for your country. “Tireless warrior and one of the bravest women I have ever known, a great revolutionary, fighter, ardent defender of human rights and peace of the people,” she wrote in a trill.
According to the book Alex Saab: The Truth About the Businessman Who Became a Billionaire in Nicolás Maduro's Shadow, written by investigative journalist Gerardo Reyes, both Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro saw Piedad Córdoba as the next head of the Colombian state. “Maduro – and Hugo Chávez when he was alive – wanted her to be president of Colombia. But they confirmed it, and here comes the esoteric part, through a Santeria rite in which Simón Bolívar's official medium tells her, in the name of the Liberator, that she will become president,” says the text, which also points to it was Córdoba, who introduced her to Alex Saab, the Colombian businessman who would become the international economic actor of Madurismo. However, despite the fact that her name emerged as a possible Liberal presidential candidate in the 2010 elections and despite some polls favoring her, Córdoba chose not To for her party's consultations.
Subscribe to the EL PAÍS newsletter about Colombia here and the WhatsApp channel here and receive all the important information on current events in the country.